Influence of sound and vibration from sports impacts on players' perceptions of equipment quality

The transition from traditional to modern materials has had a significant effect on equipment performance in many sports. As a result, governing bodies are increasingly placing performance limits on equipment and so other characteristics are becoming important to players seeking the most desirable equipment for their game. The ‘feel’ of the equipment is one such subjective characteristic, which has also been significantly affected by changes in material, but it is difficult to define. Tactile and auditory sensations from impact have been found to contribute to the feel of a shot in several sports and this paper provides further evidence of this relationship. Using golf as an example, this study presents a method for measuring and analysing players' subjective perceptions. The results are then correlated with measurements of sound, linear vibration, and torsional vibration from impact. Stronger relationships were found with the sound data rather than the vibration data, suggesting that the sound is the most significant form of feedback from impact. Psychoacoustic metrics for assessing sound quality are discussed, including perceived loudness and sharpness. Relationships were found between these metrics and the players' perceptions although similar correlations were also found with traditional metrics, such as sound pressure level. The limitations of the psycho-acoustic models for impulsive sounds are also discussed.